(Image: Red & Black)I know I have some odd ideas. My wife reminds me often that I am not like normal people. There are all sorts of things that all of us believe that run counter to the normal population. These ideas are not strange enough to require medication or even social ostracism, but they do put a distance between you and your friends when they are finally exposed. So why do we continue to do these things despite the mild problems they cause us? Because we are right, damn it, and everyone else just doesn't get it. Cheering at a Georgia game is one of those things for me. Here are my general rules.
#1 When the opponent has the ball, yell at them loudly. It doesn't matter what you yell at them as long as you are directing sound waves in their direction. On this, I will likely get no debate in theory. In practice, however, Georgia home crowds don't always heed this rule. If we want Sanford to enjoy the type of reputation for noise possessed by Neyland, the Swamp, or Tiger Stadium, our fans need to yell loudly on every down. Georgia crowds are often sluggish on first and second downs. On third downs, we sometimes need prodding from the PA announcer who dramatically calls the down and distance when the opponents break huddle. This is all wrong. There should be noise, at a minimum, from the time the opponent huddles until the snap on every down. The object of stadium noise is to make it difficult for the opponent to communicate. If you yell after the huddle breaks, you're not maximizing communication disruptions.
#2 When the opposing team is checking a play at the line, the noise should increase. Again, if you want to disrupt communication, the best time to do this is when the opposing QB is changing the play at the line. His players are spread out and should never be able to talk over the noise. If you see an opposing quarterback checking a play at the line, your volume should go up.
#3 Watch the red hat. Cheering when the opposing offense is standing around waiting for a TV break to end shouldn't really bother them. When the TV timeout guy is on the field (usually in a white shirt and a red hat) the refs aren't going to start play. But, I've seen us cheer and cheer when the guy is out on the field. There have been times that the loudest moment before a play happens was while the game was in commercial break. This is wasted noise. Start cheering when Mr. Red Hat leaves the field.
#4 Silence for the offense. If the goal of noise is to hinder communication, then the home crowd should be silent when we have the ball. Allow Stafford to check plays at will and ensure that the team has no excuse for not picking up the check. I remember watching a Duke basketball game once and the crowd was going nuts when the other team had the ball. When Duke brought the ball up the court, it was like the arena was empty. It sounded like a practice. That is what I want when we are on offense, practice level noise. This isn't to say you shouldn't cheer for a big play, just that the period from huddle to snap when the Dawgs have the ball should be calm and quiet.
#5 Don't participate in or encourage stupid cheering. Crowds can sometimes descend to the level of its stupidest member, even if only briefly. I consider this principle most often when I hear the "Overrated" cheer. There is no more stupid cheer in all of sport. It both diminishes your accomplishment and faults the opposition for something they didn't do. If you think your team is good, why would you say that the team you are beating isn't that great? If anything, you should be talking that team up. Don't you want to say that you beat a good team rather than one that didn't deserve pregame hype? Plus, the opposition doesn't control where they are ranked. It's a stupid, stupid cheer and should never be uttered. The same goes for "The Wave." Folks, it is no longer 1988. Stop doing the wave. It accomplishes only one thing, annoying the hell out of people who want to watch the game. If my children do the wave, it will be an immediate and unappealable reason for corporal punishment.
#6 Booing. I know this is a controversial subject, but I have a couple of general principals here. First, never boo a Bulldog. I don't care how bad the screw up was, how many passes are dropped, or how many tackles are missed. These guys aren't getting any take home pay for their sacrifice to the university. They are out there for the glory of your university. Cheer them on and don't humiliate them. Not only does it make us look terrible as fans, but it also makes an impression on recruits (see 1999 Auburn game).
Second, boo the other guys as much as you like. My momma told me never to boo anyone, but momma was usually surrounded by 80,000 drunk LSU fans doing the dirty work for her. As I've gotten older, I've found the boo is one of the milder forms of opponent or official derision, so boo away. More aggressive forms of belittlement should be used only when absolutely necessary. Cursing by sober people should always be avoided, but I understand if Penn Wagers upsets you. Just be careful. Parents don't want to have to explain to their kids what you want to do to the referee's wife and why.
My final piece of advice on booing is to try the hiss every now and then. I find its noise is far more unnerving than the simple boo to which every player no doubt has built in resistance. The hiss is rarely used and is likely to provoke more of a reaction. I know what 95,000 people booing sounds like, but 95,000 people hissing could be far more scary. Think about it.
So there are my general principals for cheering at Georgia games. If executed properly, you should feel exhausted after the final play. You should feel like you played in the game and be hoarse until Tuesday.
Should I add anything to this philosophy or maybe scrap a rule entirely?